Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea

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When singer/guitarist Kathy Mattea's single "Street Talk" entered the Billboard country chart in October 1983, the time had come for the 24-year-old West Virginia native to leave waitressing behind, and after that Top 30 hit was followed by another chart single, "Someone Is Falling in Love," Mercury Records could justify the release of Mattea's self-titled debut album in the spring of 1984. There isn't anything on it that has quite the drive of the nearly disco-tinged "Street Talk" (which, naturally, leads off the LP), and most of the songs, a fairly representative sampling of Nashville formula country writing, make the singer more of a victim and less of a feisty character than the woman who fought back against her bad reputation on her hit. A good example is "You've Got a Soft Place to Fall," in which Mattea sings that she'll continue to take back a straying boyfriend yet again. But less significant than the material is the singer's voice. Mattea possesses a warm alto that efficiently processes the melodies here and that once, on "Back to the Heartbreak Kid," demonstrates that she can belt when she wants to (or has the opportunity). She may have a career in country music yet.

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